Saturday, October 15, 2011

Reduce your debt, save thousands a year (a vent)

It seems that everyone today has advice on how to save hundreds, even thousands of dollars a year by taking a few simple steps. I really must stop reading these articles because I just shake my head in sorrow whenever I read them. Are people really so stupid that they need to be told that buying a latte at Starbucks costs more than a cup of coffee? Or a cup of coffee brewed at home costs less than takeout? That if they're having trouble paying their bills, going out to eat isn't a good idea? That a vacation is a want, not a need. And I get frustrated because I already do most, if not all of the money-saving ideas people post.

I had a little more hope that this post over at Becoming Minimalist would be different, just because it was a longer list. Maybe there would be something I hadn't thought of. I'm always looking for ideas on how to spend less. Alas, there was nothing new. And of the 33 ideas, I already do 28 out of the 33. I'm including the list here. Maybe it will give you some ideas and maybe you can help me with the five I don't do (1, 3, 12, 13, 20).
  1. Re-shop auto, home and life insurance to see if you can bring down your payments. (Not interested in changing companies so am stuck with this one.)
  2. Downgrade your cable package, or get rid of it entirely. (Never had cable.)
  3. Disconnect your home phone if you have adequate cell service at your home. Or downgrade to a cheaper package. (Need to keep the landline in case I get a call requiring the TTY. And there are no cheaper cell phone plans available unless we decide to go pay-as-you-go, which we don't want to do. We don't have data plans.)
  4. Buy and sell clothes at your local consignment or shop at Goodwill. (My clothes isn't good enough for consignment shops and I buy all of my clothes on clearance, which is usually cheaper than Goodwill.)
  5. Have a massive garage sale. (If you’d rather be out of debt than have an item, choose to sell it to help you get you there.) (Did that and will do it again.)
  6. Advertise higher quality items on Craigslist, Facebook, or your local newspaper to get better prices. (Did that and will do it again.)
  7. Focus on buying mostly sale items at grocery store or generic brands to reduce your cost. (I've always shopped this way. And don't forget the coupons.)
  8. Use a grocery store awards program to earn money off gas. (Not available locally)
  9. Cancel unnecessary expenses like magazine subscriptions, newspapers, manicures, pedicures etc. Anything that could be considered a “want” instead of a “need” should go until you are out of debt or greatly decrease your debt. (I save more in coupons I get than I pay for my newspaper subscription.)
  10. Go to the matinee movies instead of paying full price (and skip the concessions). (Yep. I also buy movies tickets at a discount so I can go to the movies any time.)
  11. Or better yet, use the Red Box for at-home movie entertainment. (I don't rent movies, but I may start using Red Box. So do I count this as a Yep? I think I will.)
  12. Get temporary work or seasonal part time work to boost your income. (I already work 50 hours a week, plus a commute. I've done a bit of consulting, but it is pretty tough out there.)
  13. Read books from the library or take a few trips to Barnes & Noble to complete a book. (Although I do spend around $20/year on books, my last books came from a library sale, Goodwill, or were gifts. I don't believe in cheating B&N out of their $ by reading there for free.)
  14. Buy your most expensive groceries in bulk at Coscto: meats, breads, cheese, produce, paper products. Establish a monthly grocery budget for the additional needs at regular grocery stores. (Yep.)
  15. When eating out, skip the soft drinks and stick with water. Skip the extras too (dessert, etc.). (Yep.)
  16. When eating out, share a large entrée or have small appetizers instead of the costly meal. (Yep.)
  17. Plan your errands more efficiently to conserve gas. (Yep.)
  18. Find friends that you can trade services with…haircutting, handyman, photography, babysitting, pet-sitting. (We do have friends in trades that give us discounts.)
  19. Give home-made gifts, baked goods, or service IOU’s rather than expensive presents. (Yep.)
  20. Boxed cereals are expensive; switch to oatmeal, eggs or fruit for more nutritional and financial bang. (I buy name brand cereal for $1 to $2/box. Although more expensive than oatmeal, I pay significantly less than most people. We go through about 3 boxes a month so it is still pretty cheap.)
  21. Call the utility companies and get on a budget plan to give you more consistency with expenses each month. (How does this save $? But yes, some of our utilities are on level-pay plans.)
  22. Set a spending limit with family at Christmas and/or draw names. (Yep.)
  23. Use exercise videos, walking or hiking instead of paying for the gym. (Yep. Oh wait, this implies that I exercise, lol.)
  24. If your haircut is too expensive, find a less expensive stylist or see if your hairdresser will cut you a break on price temporarily – ours did. ($15 including tip. I'd be embarrassed to ask for a discount.)
  25. Say “no” to hosting and/or attending in-home parties where you feel pressure to purchase. (Yep.)
  26. Does your family live nearby? Once a week dinners with mom or dad saved us a meal out of our shopping budget. Additionally, it usually led to leftovers and our parents looked forward to our visit each week. (I'm the one who usually sends food to others.)
  27. Make your coffee at home instead of buying it each day. (Yep.)
  28. Pack your lunch – not once a week, but regularly. (Yep.)
  29. Make extra dinner servings on purpose to have leftovers for lunch. (Yep.)
  30. Our dentist advised us we could skip the fluoride treatments if we were using a daily dental rinse – which we did… and bought on sale. (Never had fluoride treatments so this doesn't apply)
  31. Program your thermostat for savings on heating/cooling when you’re not at home. (Yep.)
  32. Tempted by certain retail stores? While digging out of debt, avoid window shopping these places where you’ve failed to control your impulses before. (Yep.)
  33. Give**. (Yep.)
Eh, enough with my venting. Keep in mind, most of these things aren't that hard to do. And you might enjoy the extra savings in your pocket.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Five (excuses) on Friday

Why I haven't been blogging much:
  1. We went on vacation. A REAL vacation that involved sightseeing and going out and gaining weight, lol.
  2. I had a visitor for a few days. My SIL (and one of my best friends) came to visit so no computer time when I got home from work.
  3. My computer is really old and really slow, so I am avoiding it.
  4. I'm still catching up on my TV watching from all the shows we recorded while we were gone.
  5. I haven't been in the mood (hey, at least I'm honest).

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Three pounds

After a week-long cruise, filled with all-you-can-eat buffets, plus lunches and dinners that included appetizers, first courses, and desserts (definitely multiple on the desserts), I am happy to report a mere increase of three pounds. As it turns out, I didn't exercise as much on this cruise. Last cruise, I made a huge effort to go to the early morning exercise classes and spent time on the treadmill. This cruise, the yoga and Zumba classes didn't burn off what I ate. Ironically, I don't think the food was as good this time around, even though it was the same cruise line. So why the weight gain? Can I blame it on old age? Hopefully, healthy eating habits will get rid of those three pounds (and more!).